“In 1788 Quakers in Pennsylvania freed their slaves, anticipating the emancipation of chattel slaves in the United States some seventy-five years later. Together with free blacks, abolitionist evangelicals, and slaves who were willing to risk their lives, Quakers led one of America’s most vibrant faith-based justice movements — the Underground Railroad. Committed to simplicity, religious freedom, and nonviolence, Quakers have contributed to movements for peace and justice throughout US history.” – Common Prayer App.
“The popular name for the Society of Friends, founded in England by George Fox in 1668. They took the name Quakers because they were said to “tremble at the word of the Lord.” Quakers have no ministers and observe no sacraments. Their chief feature is a belief in Inner Light,* or direct illumination from God, which they elevate to a place of spiritual authority, superior even to the Bible.
The breakaway United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing was popularly known as the Shakers on account of their convulsive movements during their meetings. Ann Lee, a Manchester textile worker generally referred to as Mother Lee, led this group into the United States. Shakers were sure that Christ’s second coming* was about to take place. In view of this, though they were renowned for their industry, they disallowed marriage, and have faded almost out of existence.” – Alan Cairns, Dictionary of Theological Terms (Belfast; Greenville, SC: Ambassador Emerald International, 2002), 357–358.
Prayers for Others:
Our Father Lord, help us answer your call as readily as our father Abram, that we might extend your blessing throughout our community. Remind us that the places where we find you become altars in our world. Amen. May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you; may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm; may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you; may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.
Common Prayer App.
A Short History of Quakerism
“Friends, Society of, commonly known as *Quakers (q.v.). A body with Christian foundations, originally called ‘Children of the Light’, ‘Friends in the Truth’, ‘Friends of the Truth’, or ‘Friends’. The present official title, ‘Religious Society of Friends’, came into general use in the 19th cent.; in some parts of the USA the style ‘Friends’ Church’ has been employed since the late 19th cent.
The Quaker movement arose out of the religious ferment of the mid-17th cent. G. *Fox, its leader, emphasized the immediacy of Christ’s teaching within each person and held that to this ordained ministers and consecrated buildings were irrelevant. By 1655, when Quakers were mentioned in a proclamation of O. *Cromwell, they had spread throughout Britain and Ireland and to the Continent of Europe, and in 1682 W. *Penn founded Pennsylvania as a ‘Holy Experiment’ on Quaker principles. In their meetings Friends waited silently upon the Lord without a pre-arranged order of worship, believing that God would use any one of those present, man or woman, to minister. Their refusal to take *oaths or pay *tithes, or to accept any authority which they felt conflicted with their inner guidance, and their testimony against ‘hat honour’ and flattery of language and manner, led to persecution under the Commonwealth, intensified after the Restoration (1660). Over 20,000 of them were fined or imprisoned, and at least 450 died in gaol, before the *Toleration Act 1688 ended widespread persecution.
During the 18th cent. Quakerism was influenced by *Quietism, and in the 19th cent. by the *Evangelical Movement, both in Britain and in the USA. In America a split occurred in 1827–8 as a result of the teaching of E. *Hicks, whose emphasis on ‘Christ within’ seemed to undervalue the authority of Scripture and the historic Christ. Beginning in 1845 there were further secessions by conservative groups maintaining mystical emphases and stressing the traditional ‘plainness of speech, behaviour and apparel’. In Britain there were three minor secessions: that following the evangelical ‘Beacon’ controversy of the 1830s, so named from the book, A Beacon to the Society of Friends (1835) by Isaac Crewdson (1780–1844), which criticized Hicks’s views, and those of the conservative Fritchley Friends and a small group of ‘rationalist’ Friends in Manchester, both by the early 1870s.
Between 1667 and 1671 Fox, with other Friends, established a series of Meetings for Church Affairs. The primary meeting was, and still is, the Monthly Meeting, in Britain covering several congregations which may have Preparatory Meetings. Monthly Meetings were grouped into Quarterly Meetings, covering larger areas, and in 1668 a Yearly Meeting was established for the whole of Britain. The Monthly Meeting still retains its central position, with responsibility for membership, pastoral care, and matters of discipline. In Britain General Meetings have now replaced Quarterly Meetings. Each of the world’s Yearly Meetings is autonomous, but through the Friends World Committee for Consultation (established in 1937), all Quakers have opportunities to reach a better understanding of their varying backgrounds. In 1675 the London Yearly Meeting (known since 1995 as Britain Yearly Meeting) established a Meeting for Sufferings, primarily to consider ways of securing redress from persecution and other sufferings. This still meets regularly as a standing representative committee entrusted between Yearly Meetings with the care of matters affecting the Society in Britain. In other Yearly Meetings the titles Representative Meeting or Permanent Board are generally used for similar bodies.
The religious tenets of 17th-cent. Friends are set out in the classic work of R. *Barclay, Theologiae Verae Christiana Apologia (1676). Modern Friends continue to affirm their belief in the *Inner (or Inward) Light and the direct experience of God’s Spirit, guiding, saving, and empowering them for action as well as growth. Like Barclay, they value the Bible, but regard it as ‘a secondary rule subordinate to the Spirit’. Relying on the leadings of the Spirit, they have no set liturgy or creeds, and, believing that all life can be sacramental, they have no *Sacraments as such, though they believe in a spiritual baptism and communion. There is no ordained ministry in the Society and all members are encouraged to contribute to the Meeting according to their gifts, but certain officers accept specific duties for limited periods. ‘Elders’ are responsible for the nurture of the spiritual life of the Meeting and ‘overseers’ for the pastoral care of its members. In their Meetings for Church Affairs, Friends seek to discern God’s will, and the ‘clerk’ records the ‘sense of the Meeting’; no decision is taken by voting. The Society’s discipline, corporately agreed by the members, is recorded in a Book of Discipline, which is regularly revised. In parts of the USA silent worship with spontaneous ministry has been replaced by prearranged forms, often led by a paid pastor. Such structured worship is also found in other parts of the world where Friends have had missions.
Friends’ opposition to oaths and military service early brought them into conflict with the civil authorities, and during the 20th cent. many have been imprisoned for their witness against war. Until the middle of the 19th cent., like other Nonconformists, they were excluded from the universities in England, and many sought to express their convictions in commerce, industry, and banking. Friends have become widely known for their commitment to social and educational progress, penal reform, the promotion of peace and justice, and, esp. in the 20th cent., international relief. In 1947 the Nobel Peace Prize was given jointly to the (British and Irish) Friends Service Council and the American Friends Service Committee. The Friends World Committee for Consultation is recognized as a nongovernmental organization with consultant status at the United Nations, and Friends have established a Quaker Council for European Affairs in Brussels. They are involved in the *Ecumenical Movement and work closely with members of other Churches and faiths. Their former attitude to music and the theatre has changed considerably and many Quakers are now enthusiastic supporters of the arts.”
F. L. Cross and Elizabeth A. Livingstone, eds., The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005), 645–646.